Contributed by Jonathon Moir, Ph.D., Program Manager, Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC), Beyond Benign
As the 2021/2022 school year begins and many students have returned to in-person classes across the U.S., effective strategies for teaching and learning in the midst of an ongoing global pandemic remain top of mind amongst educators at all levels, from K-12 through to higher education. A priority remains the ability to network and collaborate with other educators (especially when in-person conferences and meetings remain uncertain), to share best practices and resources, to help support each other amid change, and to find ways to stay engaged across geographic and institutional boundaries.
The Green Chemistry Teaching and Learning Community (GCTLC)—set to launch in 2023—will help support educators in doing all the above and more. A collaborative project between Beyond Benign and the ACS Green Chemistry Institute® (GCI), the GCTLC will be an online platform dedicated to supporting a community of practice around green chemistry education. By providing a virtual space, the GCTLC will enable the chemistry education community to connect more regularly around frontier topics in green chemistry education, share ideas and knowledge, access resources and educational materials to support teaching and learning from all over the world, connect mentors to mentees, and support professional development at all career stages.
Since beginning the planning and development of the GCTLC earlier this year, Beyond Benign and the ACS GCI have made significant strides in preparing for the launch of the platform in two years’ time. One of the first steps was to establish a leadership committee consisting of a group of 20 education experts from diverse backgrounds and sectors, including K-12, higher education, industry, and information management. These individuals are leaders in their respective fields and have been meeting regularly over the past eight months to discuss how the GCTLC can best support the chemistry education community and what tools and functionality will be needed to do so. The leadership committee includes a number of subcommittees that focus on critical aspects of the future GCTLC platform, namely:
Cross-cutting these three foundational pillars of the platform is the overarching goal of creating a strong sense of belonging and respect that supports diverse community members from around the world and eliminates accessibility barriers. The Diversity, Equity, Belonging, and Respect (DEBR) subcommittee within the leadership group is exploring this in detail, including what aspects of an online community platform truly make it accessible to everyone. By working in smaller subcommittees and focusing strategically on these pillars and goals, the leadership group has begun to create a framework for how to best structure and develop the GCTLC. This will be critical as we begin planning IT development this fall, and building out and testing the platform moving into 2022 and 2023.
Additionally, over the summer the program garnered engagement and momentum at several virtual conferences and events. During Beyond Benign’s annual Green Chemistry Commitment Summit on June 24, community members provided feedback on how to overcome barriers to introducing green and sustainable chemistry into curricula and also explored how online platforms (such as the GCTLC) can provide support. At the 25th Annual Green Chemistry & Engineering Conference on June 14-18, Beyond Benign and the ACS GCI hosted a networking session on the final day of the conference that included a brief introduction to the GCTLC program and a green chemistry trivia game. And finally, at the IUPAC/CCCE Conference that took place from August 13-20, Beyond Benign’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Dr. Amy Cannon, presented the importance of communities of transformation in creating systemic change in education and how the GCTLC will help to support such a community of transformation in green chemistry education.
As we move into the fall, the GCTLC program will continue to evolve and grow. Development of the platform will begin in late September/early October with a key IT partner and with core members of the organizing and advisory teams. Moving into 2022, we will launch a prototype platform to begin testing with a broader cross-section of the community. Look for us during the 2022 conference season as we will be hosting workshops, focus groups, and networking events highlighting the power of such online communities and how they can truly benefit members of the chemistry education community at all different career stages (from students, teachers and faculty educators through to industry professionals, environmental health and safety managers, and more). We are excited about this platform's potential and we can’t wait to share it with all of you in the coming years.
In the meantime, if you are interested in staying informed on GCTLC news and updates (including opportunities to participate in focus groups, surveys, and beta-testing of the platform), please feel free to subscribe to our mailing list, reach out to us by email with any questions or comments (firstname.lastname@example.org), follow us on any of our social media accounts, or check out the newly-created GCTLC page on our website.
Beyond Benign is a not-for-profit dedicated to developing and disseminating educational resources on green chemistry and sustainable science to empower educators, students and community members to practice sustainability through chemistry.
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